Texas lawmakers introduce the Vanessa Guillen Act

In April 2020, Venessa Guillen, a 20-year-old woman and an Army Specialist went missing from Fort Hood, Texas. More than two months later, her corpse was discovered several miles away from Fort Hood. She was allegedly murdered by another soldier. During the course of the investigations, it was discovered that she was sexually harassed on two occasions before her murder. However, her supervisor and, the Army administration overall, failed to take appropriate attention over the sexual harassment complaint. The incident garnered country-wide medial attention.

Now, one year later, Texas lawmakers have introduced a bill — Senate Bill 623, also known as the Venessa Guillen Act — that will protect military members from Texas against sexual harassment and sexual assault. Once passed, the act would mandate a third-party independent investigation into sex-related offenses and a confidential recording option for sexual harassment, allowing victims to file a formal complaint for sexual harassment at any time.

Sexual harassment at the workplace

Incidents of sexual harassment at the workplace are fairly common. Sometimes, it is subtle verbal comment that one may even fail to notice or report but when that continues unchecked over a period of time, it can reach dangerous proportions. In fact, if these unwarranted advances are not countered in  time, there have been many instances when the perpetrators went on to physically stalk and sexually assault a coworker. On the other hand, there are also cases of quid pro quo sexual harassment, which is not just a harrowing experience but also demeaning and demotivating.

In view of these factors, it is always a wise decision to nip sexual harassment in the butt. One needs to remember that there are a number of federal and state laws that protect victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. However, nothing can happen if the incidents are unreported. Therefore, if someone is a victim of sexual harassment and is unsure of what needs to be done, the wisest decision would be to seek legal guidance at the earliest opportunity. With timely, adequate legal intervention, incidents of sexual harassment can often be dealt with effecively.

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